Fifteen years ago I struggled with recurring throat and lung infections. The doctors prescribed antibiotics even though I tested negative for strep every time and they could not tell me what was causing them.
(Yeah, strep throat that was NOT actually strep throat... so what the hell was it? Read on.)
So I found an MD who practiced alternative health. He gave me better solutions for dealing with the infections... but had no advice on how to prevent them.
So I found an traditional chinese medicine doctor who was an amazing overall healer... and she told me to STOP EATING SUGAR.
(But in a really nice way, because she was such a nice lady.)
And at the time that SHOCKED ME. I mean, I ate super healthy! (Except for the sugar.)
And to be honest, I did not do it. Because I was, actually, pretty addicted to sugar.
But I started working towards it. I looked at hidden sugars.
I started coming up with sugar alternatives, to do when I wanted sugar instead of sugar.
And it took a long time, and in the beginning it was a real struggle.
But slowly, with a lot of self work on what the heck that love of sugar was really about (beside the fact that dessert is delicious), I transformed that relationship with sugar to one that is really healthy.
Do I still eat sugar? Hell yes! I'd never tell anyone to stop eating anything they enjoy.
Can I get an Amen to that???
And yet, I had to shift that dynamic. It wasn't serving me and it was only creating problems with my body.
It was a substitute for certain lack I felt in my life. I had a wound that I couldn't tell you where it came from. I had a sadness that didn't really make sense considering how generally awesome my life was. I felt a loneliness in the world that couldn't be explained because I was surrounded by creative loving friends. And I turned to sugar to cheer me up.
& It was contributing to recurring INFECTIONS!
But as I slowly slowly, over the course of years, came to terms with my love of sugar and learned when I actually wanted to eat something sweet or when I just needed something to distract me or cheer me up, those infections did slowly fade away with time as well. Thankfully!
And I still get to eat sugar!
Manage specific health concerns like losing the extra weight or getting rid of the aches, pains, or even infections by upgrading your nutrition and self care.
Transform your relationship with food into a positive force in your life.
Turn your food talk into a friend and ally (instead of a judge, informant, mean girl, or police).
Whatever your personal concerns, my program is 100% customized to help you take baby steps towards the health goal you wish to achieve. I've helped women with all of the above and more. My program is not for everyone. I do not offer quick fixes. Change does not happen fast. But you can transform your health with improved nutrition, quality of food, exercise you love to do, and self care that makes you feel great EVERY day!
Because my strep throat was NOT actually strep throat. It was my body telling me to stop eating sugar.
So what could your extra few pounds or whatever concern brought you here be your body telling you?
Because eating the cookies (or hot cheetos or whatever) is NOT your fault.
Ever since my quiz told me that I could blame all my sugar binges on Junior High I've been relieved... and also thinking about Junior High!
I ran "A Team" in cross country all year long, but usually only placed like 10th or so. Then after I threw up at a cross country meet (only because I ate RIGHT before the run, which was clearly a bad idea), I ran "B Team" the next week... and got first place (it was half the distance). And EVERYBODY was giving me high five and stuff because they announced that at school... but I remember thinking it was so much easier and less an achievement than getting tenth on A Team!!! It only "sounded" better! In then end of the season I was actually highly ranked because it's all based on points, and A Team is way more points!
I also won first place in the Texas History Competition for my Spanish Aqueduct model. That was a bigger deal.
I also thought the vice principal was awesome. He eventually became principal, and later the principal of my high school (after I was gone, but I was still happy to hear it). He knew EVERY SINGLE kid's name!!!! Mr. Bannister, you rock!
Oh and I loved my science teacher, Mrs. Jobe. We licked rocks to taste them, wrote stories about the sea (mine starred Cephus the Whale), built atoms (or maybe that was solar systems? Don't recall), and much more.
Why am I writing a blog post about Junior High? I blame ALL my problems on Junior High now! And I have been thinking about it quite a lot.
Listen. Here's the deal. I STRUGGLED with this question for YEARS.
Here are some quotes from old journals:
The list goes on and one. Over a period of years I would write this stuff on a regular basis. Interspersed with other things like...
And for the most part I didn't know WHY I couldn't stop. I didn't understand WHY when I resolved to do things, when I TRIED to quite eating sugar, I failed.
I was smart. I was independent. I had a great life.
And yet... I could. not. stop. eating. sugar.
But then there were glimpses into understanding why I could not stop eating sugar, that I just didn't go deep enough with because I didn't understand they were related.
"I had a cry-fest-pity-party tonight. Then I drove to New Braunfels and back. Then I bought soda, candy, and cigarettes on my mom's gas card. I'm sad & lonely & tired of meaningless relationships & sick of love story fairy tales. I want to sleep until it's warm outside. I want peace in my home. I want someone to cuddle with at night. I want to fuck. I want to cry. I want ____."
It is exactly that desire, that looking for a fairy tale - because it was MY OWN fairy tales I was sick of, that desire to connect in an emotional and physical way that I was stuffing myself with sugar to numb myself from.
I was the one thinking that a relationship would be some kind of fairy tale. I was so deeply duped by the silly stories in our society, and yet simultaneously unwilling to accept them. No wonder I was frustrated in so many ways.
And, after lots of self work and reflection, I can say that the longer quote, where I talk about bigger picture things, is the GOLD NUGGET (and, ugh, I feel dirty that I used my mom's gas card - I almost wanted to edit it out, but decided to leave it in, and then, kind of laughingly, why is THAT the part that still creeps me out?)
Because it is EXACTLY that bigger picture that was the reason behind the sugar binges!! They did not feel related at all back then. I had no idea. I was also in denial when my doctor of Chinese medicine suggested as such. First I denied I had a problem with sugar (despite the fact that I was writing about sugar incessantly in my journals). Then I told her I didn't care - I didn't WANT to stop eating sugar. But luckily she gently persisted with the message and I eventually acknowledged this as truth.
And yet... as amazing as she was as a healer, she only pointed me in the right direction with the sugar-desire connection. I still had to fumble my way through figuring it out, which I eventually did. And I did this so successfully that it feels like a different me back then.
I can also say that I truly have to go to my journals to remember that self hate, that body hate, that shame and feeling like a failure.
(That's not to say I'm in some perfect life now - we never are, but I am much better at recognizing my own bullshit stories and stopping myself mid-thought to reset. Focusing on my wrinkles, my post-children jiggly bits, etc etc... well it happens, but I know it's a load of shit even though I still feel it, and so I just try to honor the feeling while I recognize that it is coming from a bullshit story.)
Plus my journals NOW are so full of positive affirmations you'd really not recognize the author!!!
So... if you are wondering why you can't stop eating sugar... then ask yourself what your deeper desires are. Or, better yet, buy my journal and answer the questions to help guide you to that answer!
Okay, a lot of my friends have questioned me for "talking about sugar" despite crazy things going on in the world.
You know... Facebook is exploding with petitions, rallies, and all kinds of mayhem...and here I am posting about how to eat less sugar, or how not to worry when you do eat sugar.
Or, there are violent mobs and floods, and...here I am posting about how to lose weight by learning to manage your stress.
So why do I keep posting about weight loss, sugar, stress, and emotional eating when there are so many other, more timely things to be posting about????
The truth is this: I think shit got crazy in 2016. When I woke up to a future President Trump I had to have a little come to Jesus talk with myself. Trump as president? That's not normal.
And I realized that if more people stood up for the things they cared about, the world would be...different.
So I looked back at my bet that helping busy, ambitious women lose weight while eating all the food they love, and most importantly helping them FEEL their BEST and truly love what they eat.
And I BELIEVE in that. So I doubled down.
And I also believe this to be true: People need help to eat well, without guilt or restriction, NOW more than ever. Shit is going down in our country right now. A white house run by reality TV star? Advisors leaving left and right? Violent uprisings from the white supremacists? Floods on the gulf coast?
Yeah, we're kinda stressed.
And in the midst of all this chaos, we need to nourish ourselves now more than ever. We need to take care of ourselves, so we can keep fighting for what we believe in. So we can speak our truth. And my work HELPS women do that. And I BELIEVE in my work.
So I'll just be over here, talking about sugar, stress, food, and loving ourselves through it all.
What does sugar have to do with emotional eating?
Well, a lot actually. While sugar is not the only thing you can eat emotionally - you could crave spaghetti, potatoes, ketchup, sweet tea, chips and salsa, or any number of things - sugar is by far the most common craving triggered by emotional eating.
Sugar is sweet, and we are trained to like sweet from birth. We are born that way. Breastmilk is sweet. We cry. We get this thing that tastes good and makes us feel good. Nursing and eating also make us (the baby version of us) feel safe and happy.
From there... the list is long. But imagine...birthday parties. Straight As or any other celebration. Family gatherings. Friday night. Summer time ice cream. Holiday treats. All these things also associate food with safety, joy, happiness... So it's actually really natural that sugar makes us feel good.
However, when we get overly busy and food or sugar becomes the only tool we have to feel better, then it becomes an issue. Also, because we have os many hidden sugars in our modern world, and because we have so many sweets and treats to readily accessible, we really can have too much of a good thing.
The trick is not to stop eating sweets or foods we like, but to tune in to our bodies and ask our bodies when it really wants that sweet, and if it really wants the second serving. It can take practice, but our bodies don't lie, our bodies tell us the truth and will teach us how to eat just the right amount of all the delicious things we are surrounded by!
Do you know to listen to your body? Do you let your body guide your food choices?
If you know you need help in this category, get a copy of Body Wisdom Journal!
What is the difference between mindless eating and emotional eating? The truth is...not a lot. However, it' still important to think about, because it can help us understand ourselves, which is the key to Love Every Bite!
If you consider yourself a mindless eater, you may actually be eating to AVOID the emotions.
Many of us are also mindless eaters simply because our loves are busy. And while that is understandable, we still have to make the effort to know enough about our eating as to tell...
Am I full?
Am I satisfied?
Does this feel good?
Am I masking other problems?
Look I'll be honest. My lunch? It's pretty much alway mindless. And usually preceded by an expletive because I'm running out of time before I go get my kids form preschool!! Not the best way to bless your meal!!! LOL
And yet, I have a well trained awareness, so I can counteract that mindlessness by grabbing something healthy and knowing I likely won't feel that satisfied since I'm basically stuffing my face as I run out the door. Which, you know, isn't that satisfying of a way to eat.
If you consider yourself an emotional eater, then you have the awareness that something is triggering you, but maybe don't feel it is in your control to change the habit (or feel it is worth it on some level). There are also things we can learn from this.
What am I feeling?
Is this ____ (food item) going to help?
What am going to feel after I eat this?
Is there another way I can satisfying this emotional need?
My passion is to help women connect with their hearts and bodies so they can be nourished despite their busy, ambitious lives.
I can totally relate to feeling out of control with your food and unable to stop eating sugar. I used to have that same struggle, and would eat sugar throughout the day. I would binge on sugar, beat myself up over it, swear to give it up forever...and do it all again the next day.
This is now my area of expertise and something I am passionate about helping women overcome. I have a few very important questions you can ask yourself to help you get a handle on this issue.
1. Are you eating enough?
When we under eat, our bodies DEMAND food. And guess what, when our bodies demand it, we go for whatever is fastest, easiest, most delicious. This often means sugar, fat, and salt. So make sure you are eating a wholesome satisfying breakfast AND lunch to get you through the day.
2. Are you eating the right things?
That means including carbs, fats, and proteins, and lots of fruits and veggies. Oh, and it should be something you ENJOY. IT is essential that we are nourishing ourselves, not just getting basic nutrients. If we are depriving ourselves of enjoyment in our daily meals we will often seek it later in the day in the form of junk and treats.
3. Do you know your triggers?
People can be triggered by many different things. Over hunger, as I described above. Sight and smell, so you can avoid, say, pastry shops with large windows if this applies to you. Also learn your emotional triggers. Stress, bad relationships, lack of a relationship, boredom, avoiding unpleasant tasks, and many other things that fall somewhere on the "emotional" spectrum can drives us to want to eat. These can also be overcome with practice.
There are many ways to overcome sugar addiction. However, they can be broken into two categories: Physical and Mental. (Or maybe Logistical and Emotional.)
1. Physical/Logistical - These are easier changes to make.
Remove hidden sugars from your diet.
Check sauces, breads, all breakfast items, all snacks, pretty much all prepared foods. Compare ingredients across multiple options, and choose the one with the least sugar, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, a short ingredient list. If you simple check the grams of sugar you will almost for sure be buying something with worse ingredients.
Look for ways to replace, reduce, or remove things that are intentionally sweet.
Do you put sugar in your coffee? Cut it in half, then cut it in half, then cut it in half, until it is not very sweet, or, if you still like the taste, not sweet at all.
Do you like something sweet after dinner? Find out if you can have some slices of fruit instead of ice cream. Or, like the coffee, start with a plate that is half fruit and half ice cream, then reduce the ice cream further, then substitute sweetened yogurt, then move to unsweetened yogurt.
2. Mental/Emotional - These are all the things that make it seem impossible to do the changes I've described above.
These are the days you feel so stressed out and overwhelmed you pull out the whole tub of ice cream and eat it straight from the carton.
These are the moments when you sit in front of the TV after a long day and suddenly the entire box of Chinese take out has disappeared.
These are the afternoons when you just can't make it without a giant latte or chocolate bar; this is what gets you through the day.
This is the part of the equation when you tell yourself you're going to change... and you don't.
This is the struggle of deciding to stop, and then you can only think about the thing you are stopping. And when you finally "give in" you eat three times as much.
Some people can just decide to do the physical changes and they are done. For other of us, including me, the mental changes MUST be addressed to lay the foundation for the physical changes to succeed.
The mental changes are addressing the problem behind the sugar. The problem behind the sugar may or may not be known to you. The problem behind the sugar may or may not be clear when you think about it. You can begin by looking backward over the past week and thinking about what PRECEDED the sugar binge or failure to stick to your resolution.
Bad day? Fight with the spouse? Kids going crazy?
Horrible boss? Lonely? Bored? Angry? Tired? Annoyed?
If you don't know, or you do know, but still can't seem to make headway, then you should seek support - read, ask a friend, find a professional, whatever it is that helps you find a clear path and system to address the problem behind the sugar.
Late night is THE MOST COMMON time I see people - women and men - turning to sugar (and other junk foods, but mostly sugar).
I used to have a sugar addiction that led to acute but severe health issues, and I still love sweets. The difference now is I understand my triggers and know what I need to do to have a healthy relationship with sugar.
And guess what, I find myself thinking I want sweets late at night as well.
Why is that?
The end of the day...
you are tired...
you are exhausted...
you've had it up to here with your boss/your drama friend/your kids/your whatever...
you are tired...
you finally got all your crap done for the day and have time to think about running into your ex/the worries of your family/the work that didn't get done...
you are tired...
you did not get a chance to relax all day and now you really want to enjoy yourself...
you are tired...
you still have so much left to do...
something on the computer...
get ready for tomorrow...
you are tired!!!!
Okay so the BIGGEST factor here is that you are TIRED!!!
It sounds SO SIMPLE, and yet it is not.
Because our society does not value rest and relaxation and our society makes "busy-ness" seem like an essential part of our lives.
But I'm telling you right now... busy-ness = stress and stress drives us to make bad choices because of the hormonal/chemical affects on our brain.
So, if you want to stop late night sugar binges, plan your entire day around getting yourself into bed earlier.
Meal prep your lunches, leave the dishes in the sink (or hire a house cleaner), shut the TV off at night, or whatever you have to do.
Past a sign up in the cabinet/fridge where the sweets are that says "GO TO BED." And read it anytime you go for the sugar after 7-8pm.
Let me know how it goes!!!!!
Whether you binge on sugar or you "Just" chronically overeat it... sugar "addiction" is simply an extreme version of a habit.
And you can look at that habit and say "I don't have a problem" and keep on doing what you are doing, and that might be fine for you. For many people it is.
Or you can look at that habit and say "I QUIT." and try to give it up forever. Unfortunately "abstaining" doesn't work for most people when it comes to sugar.
On all this speak from personal experience. I had many years in my early 20s when I both chronically overate sugar AND binged on it AND denied having a problem AND tried to abstain!!!!!!
Guess what. NONE of that was okay for me. I was gaining weight (not that much, I was in my 20s, but enough that I wasn't feeling good in my body). I also developed chronic lung and throat problems that I denied left and right and anything to do with sugar!
And yet it was the gentle but constant urging of a holistic health care provider that I was seeing that made me realize that I DID have a problem, and that sugar was CAUSING problems, too!
But I knew "abstinence" didn't work. And so I began the long journey of discovering what DID work.
The good news is that your journey doesn't have to be as long. I've compressed that journey into a short program to give up ALL guilt and lay a solid foundation to turn your sugar "problem" into a normal, everyday relationship that allows you to enjoy celebrations without ever binging again.
Learn my 5 secrets to overcoming emotional eating here!